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Mississippi Moments Podcast

Updated 2 months ago

Education
Courses
History
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Mississippi Moments, a weekly radio program airing on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, is a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and MPB.

Read more

Mississippi Moments, a weekly radio program airing on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, is a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and MPB.

iTunes Ratings

20 Ratings
Average Ratings
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WCH

By WCH___ - Feb 25 2020
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History done right! Great Podcast.

Fantastic podcast!!

By Dimples72 - Aug 24 2011
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A great oral history podcast with really interesting stories.

iTunes Ratings

20 Ratings
Average Ratings
14
6
0
0
0

WCH

By WCH___ - Feb 25 2020
Read more
History done right! Great Podcast.

Fantastic podcast!!

By Dimples72 - Aug 24 2011
Read more
A great oral history podcast with really interesting stories.
Cover image of Mississippi Moments Podcast

Mississippi Moments Podcast

Latest release on Aug 03, 2020

Read more

Mississippi Moments, a weekly radio program airing on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, is a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and MPB.

Rank #1: MSMo 418 Lou Mallory - Country Folks Can Survive

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Lou Mallory of Natchez grew up on a small farm in the Red Hills of Georgia.  In the episode, she recalls how the family barely survived raising cotton, but were happy none the less.

She explains that her father used to make syrup from sugar cane as a way to earn extra money.  She remembers eating a lot of syrup when there was not much else.

Mallory learned to sew her own dresses out of necessity. She became a seamstress as an adult and her tailor shop was a Natchez fixture for 45 years until she retired in 1998.

(photo of sugar cane mill: The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, Univ. of South Florida)

Oct 31 2014

4mins

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Rank #2: MSM 651 James Bass - The Battle for Okinawa

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James Bass of Laurel was fifteen years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. In this episode, he recalls convincing his father to sign his enlistment papers when he was only sixteen. After joining the Navy, Bass was assigned to a destroyer minesweeper. He remembers learning to be a gunner as they sailed from Boston to Pearl Harbor.

During the battle for Okinawa, Bass’s ship was struck by a kamikaze plane and heavily damaged. He describes the events leading up to the attack and how their captain managed to keep the ship afloat.

After Bass’s ship was damaged in the battle for Okinawa, the crew was given a 25-day leave. He reflects on how the dropping of the atomic bomb probably saved his life and millions more.

PHOTO: USS Harding DMS-28

Apr 13 2020

13mins

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Rank #3: MSMo 365 Dr. John Allums - Air Force Intelligence Officer

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Leakesville native, Dr. John Allums was teaching at the University of Georgia in 1951 when the Korean War began. He recounts making the transition from college professor to Air Force Intelligence Officer. He also explains how he worked with representatives from various government agencies to prepare reports for the president. 

On May 1st, 1960, a US U2 spy plane was shot done by the Soviet government while on a mission to photograph Russian military bases. Allums discusses why he feels that President Eisenhower made a mistake when he publicly acknowledged the U2 program.

Sep 20 2013

4mins

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Rank #4: MSM 579 Helen Rayne - A Lifetime of Changes in Natchez

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Helen Rayne grew up living in her grandfather’s antebellum home in Natchez during the Great Depression. In this episode, she remembers the genteel lifestyle and how they entertained themselves without a lot of money. She also describes the dedication of her teachers and how much they were respected by everyone in the community.

During her lifetime, Rayne witnessed many changes, both in her hometown and the world in general. She recalls taking walks with friends, stargazing with her grandfather, and the lessons he tried to teach her. And Rayne reflects on how the depression affected the way people socialized as they looked for ways to hang on to beloved traditions in the once prosperous river town.

Podcast Extra: The Historic Natchez Tableaux was started in 1932 as a way to attract tourist dollars and celebrate the city’s cultural heritage. It features a tour of the city’s antebellum homes, plays and musical performances, and the crowning of a king and queen.  Rayne reflects on the humble, early days of the tableaux.

PHOTO: Landowne, Natchez, 1938, by Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, Library of Congress. Wikipedia.

Jul 23 2018

8mins

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Rank #5: MSMo 407 Fannie Lou Hamer Pt 2 - Laying the Groundwork

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After attempting to register to vote, Fannie Lou Hamer was forced to leave the plantation where she had lived and worked for 18 years.  In the episode, she explains how she became active in voter registration and the challenges they faced.

Prior to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Mississippi required voters to pass a literacy test and pay a poll tax in order to vote.  Hamer recalls how she passed the test and the first time she was able to vote.

Hamer went on to become a leader in the Civil Rights movement and her speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 touched the nation. She reflects on her time in the spotlight and the friends she made along the way.

Fannie Lou Hamer passed away on March 14th, 1977.

Jul 30 2014

4mins

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Rank #6: MS Mo 377 Brumfield and Reeves - Steam Power!!

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Tom Brumfield and M.R. Reeves of McComb began working for the railroad in 1941. They explain how their family and friends influenced thir decision to become firemen shoveling coal into the massive steam locomotives.

Railroading has always been a dangerous business.  Reeves recalls the time a locomotive he was on hit a car and went off an embankment.

Jan 13 2014

4mins

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Rank #7: MSM 562 LeGrand Capers - The Vicksburg National Military Park

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On August 7, 1975, LeGrand Capers sat down with the Center for Oral History for the first part of a two-day interview. A lifelong resident of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Capers or “Doc” as he was known to his friends, was considered the town historian. His natural curiosity, love of the Arts, and memory for details made him the right person for the job. Born in 1900, Capers knew many Civil War veterans and folks who had survived the months-long siege of the city President Lincoln considered essential to a northern victory.  In this episode, Capers remembers the hours spent as a young man, listening to stories of battles fought and hardships endured.

The Vicksburg National Military Park was established in 1899 to commemorate the siege of the city during the Civil War.  Capers remembers the construction of the various state monuments and searching for relics on the battlefield as a boy. In 1916, a movie about the Civil War was filmed in the park. Capers describes joining the Mississippi National Guard in order to work as an extra on the film. After filming was completed and the country prepared to enter WWI, Capers’ father had to pull strings to get his under-aged son’s enlistment in the Guard struck so he could return to school.

In 1917, a joint reunion of Confederate and Union veterans was held at the national park in Vicksburg. Capers recalls the raucous arguments between the former foes and one old-timer who was a little too frank for polite company. There is a bit of profane language in this last story so parents beware.

PHOTO: larry-jan-tvc.net

Mar 12 2018

7mins

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Rank #8: MSM 639 Col. C.R. Cadenhead - B-24 Bomber Squadrons in Italy

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During WWII, a key component of the Allied strategy to defeat the Axis powers in Europe was a sustained aerial bombing campaign against key German military and civilian targets. Despite the vaunted reputation the B-17 bomber achieved, they were outnumbered by the lesser known B-24 Liberator.

Greenville native, Colonial C.R. Cadenhead trained to be an B-24 bomber pilot. In this episode, he shared some memories of his time flying missions over Germany.  Cadenhead explains how he and his crew dined on fancy French cuisine while on their way to Europe and how they helped a shell-shocked bombardier complete his tour of duty.  He also describes how, on one mission, his crew made it back to base after losing two of their four engines with some help from the Tuskegee Airmen.

PODCAST EXTRA: After completing his tour of duty in Europe, Cadenhead expected to be sent home.  Instead he was shipped to California to prepared for the invasion of Japan.  He remembers how the sudden end of the war in 1945 allowed him to return to college that fall and play football for Mississippi State.

This episode of Mississippi Moments was researched by Hayley Hasik and produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.

PHOTO: US Air Force

Jan 06 2020

9mins

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Rank #9: MSM 491 Harry Marsalis - The McComb Railroad Strike of 1911

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The Illinois Central railroad and eight affiliated Harriman lines had traditionally dealt separately with each craft union (boilermakers, blacksmiths, etc.) giving the companies an unfair advantage during contract negotiations in the minds of the unions. When the unions formed a "System Federation" in June of that year, the companies refused to recognize the group and began preparing for a system-wide strike.

Harry Marsalis was a seventeen year old machinist apprentice working at the Illinois Central railroad maintenance shop in McComb when the strike began on September 30th.  In this episode, he describes how the company prepared in advance of the strike by building walled compounds and hiring northern strikebreakers.  According to Marsalis, when the strikebreaker train arrived in McComb three days later, 100 strikers responded to the rock-throwing strikebreakers by shooting the train cars to pieces before the train would escape to New Orleans.  Reports of 30 dead and 100 wounded strikebreakers were denied by the company

Marsalis describes how the town became an armed camp as martial law was declared by the governor, complete with hundreds of state militiamen, machine gun towers and searchlights around the company offices.

After two long years the strike was considered a failure and many of the strikers including Marsalis were forced to leave town looking for work.

Aug 01 2016

11mins

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Rank #10: MSM 632 Fred Clark, Sr., Part 1 - Overcoming Fear and Oppression

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Fred Clark, Sr. grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1950s and 60s. In this episode, the first of two parts, he recalls the death of Emmett Till and how fear dominated the black community at that time. As events unfolded around him, Clark was determined to overcome his fear and work to make things better.

During the Civil Rights Movement, local organizers would hold events called Mass Meetings. Clark explains how these gatherings satisfied a variety of needs within the community. After the meetings, he would often catch a ride with civil rights leader Medgar Evers. He describes the sense of dread he felt riding with Evers, even as he marveled at the man’s bravery.

The culture of fear used to maintain social order in the Jim Crow South was deeply ingrained in everyone. Clark explains how being part of a greater movement inspired everyone to do their part.

Oct 28 2019

14mins

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Rank #11: MSMo 409 Cleveland Sellers Jr. - In the Dead of Night

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In 1964, as SNCC coordinators trained volunteers for the Mississippi Freedom Summer project, three others, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman traveled to Philadelphia, MS to investigate a church burning.

In this episode, Cleveland Sellers recounts how he and seven other coordinators went in search of those three when they went missing. Sellers describes the extraordinary lengths their group went to, to avoid being spotted as they searched for their friends.

After several days of searching through woods and empty buildings in the dead of night, Sellers’ group was forced to abandon their search.

The bodies of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were eventually found on August 4th, 1964.

Aug 08 2014

4mins

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Rank #12: MSM 642 Jerry Mitchell - Civil Rights Cold Case Reporter

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Jerry Mitchell was working as a reporter for the Clarion Ledger when he attended a press premier for Mississippi Burning. In this episode, he explains how that event piqued his interest in civil rights-related cold cases. 

After the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was dissolved in 1977, its records were ordered sealed for 50 years.  Mitchell recalls how he was able to get a look at those files in 1989. The ACLU filed a lawsuit to gain access to the sealed records of the State Sovereignty Commission, and the judge ruled in their favor. Mitchell recounts how having access to those files helped investigators solve several civil rights cold cases.

In his work as an investigative reporter, Jerry Mitchell gained extensive knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement.  He describes his feelings about the Two Mississippi Museums and their impact.

Jerry Mitchell was awarded a Genius Grant by the MacArthur Foundation in 2009.

PHOTO: macfound.org

Feb 10 2020

9mins

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Rank #13: MSM 652 Dorothy King Dixon: Changes to the Neshoba County Fair

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Established in 1889, the Neshoba County Fair is known for the privately-owned cabins located on its fairgrounds.  Dorothy Dixon’s great-grandparents built a cabin there during the early years and their family has maintained a house on the main square ever since. In this episode, Dixon discusses how the Neshoba County Fair has evolved during her lifetime. She compares the early cabins to the ones of today.

People come the Neshoba County Fair ready to eat their fill of good, southern cooking. Dixon discusses the tradition of inviting people to eat at their family’s fairground cabin.

Dixon recalls that on certain days, fairgoers would dress up in their most stylish attire and the girls would always have a “Thursday” dress. According to her, the Neshoba County Fair was originally intended as a place where county farmers could meet up with old friends before it was time to go home and pick the cotton. She describes those simpler times and what the fair has evolved into today.

PHOTO: weirdsouth.blogspot.com

Apr 20 2020

9mins

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Rank #14: MSM 650 Ruby Magee - The Legal Battle for Equality

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In 1961, Ruby Magee was a student at Jackson State College, majoring in History and Political Science. In this episode, she explains how her participation in local Civil Rights demonstrations, almost led to her expulsion.

That summer, Magee returned to her home in Tylertown and attempted to register to vote. At that time, Mississippians were required to pass a literacy test before being allowed to register. Magee remembers how her application was rejected even though she passed the literacy test.

After being denied the right to vote in Walthall County, Magee filed a complaint with the Justice Department.  She describes her parents as supportive, even as they feared for her safety.

In 1961, the U.S. Justice Department filed suite against the Walthall County registrar, and others, for denying blacks citizens the right vote. Magee recalls the outcome of that trial.

This episode was written by Ellie Forsyth, a senior at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg.

Mississippi Moments is produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.

Apr 06 2020

13mins

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Rank #15: MSM 413 Dr. John P. Quon - The Run of the Town

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Chinese American, Professor John P Quon grew up living in the back of his family’s store in Moorhead, Mississippi. In this episode, he recalls slipping off and exploring the downtown area at a young age.

Every member of the Quon family was expected to help out in the store.  Quon remembers learning how to make change at the age of five. 

Eventually, the Quon family decided to buy a home in Moorhead.  He explains how an anonymous letter led his father to purchase a cotton farm instead.

Oct 02 2014

4mins

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Rank #16: MSM 572 A.J. Jones - The Sinking of the USS Bismarck Sea

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When the United States entered WWII, A.J. Jones of Hattiesburg decided to become a Navy fighter pilot. In this episode, he shares his memories of that experience, beginning with the training he received and all those who died trying to learn to land on an aircraft carrier.

As a navy fighter pilot, Jones was assigned to a carrier group in the Pacific Theater. He recounts targeting Japanese ships and supplies around the Lingayen Gulf in January of 1945. The following month, Jones’s carrier, the USS Bismarck Sea was part of the task force assigned to take the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. He remembers providing air support for the Marines on the ground and how his carrier was sunk by kamikazes during the battle. After the ship went down, the survivors of the 1,000-man crew waited to be rescued as the battle raged on shore. Later, when they witnessed the American flag raised over nearby Mount Suribachi, cheers arose, even as they mourned the loss of their 318 shipmates.

PHOTO: By U.S. Navy - U.S. Navy photo 80-G-240135 from Navsource.org, Public Domain

May 28 2018

12mins

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Rank #17: MSM 552 Gail Goldberg - Jewish Holiday Foods

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Growing up in the Delta, Gail Goldberg celebrated all the traditional Jewish holidays with her family. In this episode, she describes some of the foods associated with certain holidays such as Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah and Passover and why some foods are forbidden.

Since marrying into the Goldberg family and moving to Greenwood in the late ’70s, Gail and her mother-in-law have worked together to make sure the Jewish traditions are not forgotten.  She reflects on how family recipes and practices have evolved as their family has grown.

Of all the Jewish holidays Gail Goldberg’s family observes, Rosh Hashanah is her favorite. She discusses the weeks of planning required to feed all the family and friends who come to celebrate.

PHOTO: Wiki Commons

Dec 18 2017

11mins

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Rank #18: MSm 621 Edmond Boudreaux, Jr. - Gulf Coast Seafood: Challenges Faced

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Edmond Boudreaux’s family came to Biloxi in 1914 to work in the seafood factories. In this episode, he shares his family’s long history in the seafood industry and how his father would work in the factory as child before and after attending school each day.

Growing up on “The Point” in East Biloxi, Boudreaux never thought of his family as poor. He recalls how he and his brothers would play and fish in the nearby marshes and bayous. According to Boudreaux, all people living on the Mississippi Sound develop a connection to the water. He explains how those ties remain constant, even as changes in technology have resulted in fewer people actually working in the seafood industry.

Over the years, the Gulf Coast fishery has weathered challenges from hurricanes, floods, and pollution. Boudreaux discusses those challenges and how recent events have affected the livelihoods of Mississippi fishermen.

Jul 15 2019

11mins

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Rank #19: MSM 649 Gilroy McKnight “G. R.” Harden – The Farming Game

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G. R. Harden grew up working on his family’s cotton farm near the Delta town of Cleveland. In this episode, he explains how that experience gave him a leg up when he attended Mississippi State. Taking over the family farm at a young age, Harden felt ill-prepared and unsure of himself. He recalls being taught to think of commercial farming as a game and to always plan ahead.

In the early 1950s, the Hardens transitioned their farm from growing cotton to the production of rice. He discusses why they made the switch and how farming has changed during his fifty years in the business.

After spending decades working on his Cleveland farm, Harden began collecting old tractors. He shares how that hobby led his club to host the Tunica Southern Nationals Antique Tractor Pull.

G. R. Harden passed away on February 20, 2014, at the age of 74.

Mar 30 2020

9mins

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Rank #20: MSM 637 Jackie Hancock Schulze - An Innocent Age in Natchez

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Jackie Hancock Schulze grew up in Natchez during the 1930s and 40s, in the house built by her great-grandfather, Natchez Mayor William G. Benbrook. In this episode, taken from her 2004 interview, she shares some precious childhood memories of family and friends and her hometown.

Schulze recounts going to the movies downtown, learning to swim in the Elks Club swimming pool and having “Coca-Cola parties” with her friends. She describes these gatherings as the product of a simpler, more innocent age.

When Schulze was a child, her grandmother would take her to New Orleans each summer to shop. She remembers staying on Canal Street and the amazing things to see and do in the Big Easy.

Years after Schulze left Natchez, she moved back to the family homestead, which by then was unoccupied.  After celebrating so many holidays in the dining room, surrounded by her loving family, she found it hard to eat there alone.

Jackie Schulze passed away on September 13, 2005.

Dec 09 2019

10mins

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MSM 665 Charles Evers - Civil, Political, and Economic Rights

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In 1971, Charles Evers, brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, became the first black Mississippian to run for governor in modern times. That same year, he agreed to be interviewed by a new group of scholars at the University of Southern Mississippi called the Mississippi Oral History Program.

At the time of the interview, Evers was forty-nine years old and had lived through a lot. He was frank about his early days in Chicago, describing how he worked in illegal gambling and prostitution before opening a series of successful night clubs. Evers stated he had always intended to return to Mississippi eventually, but his plans were upended when his brother was assassinated in 1963. He returned home the next day and took over Medgar’s duties as field secretary for the NAACP. From there, he became politically active, running for and becoming mayor of Fayette, Mississippi in 1969.

The interview is a snapshot in time, taken exactly halfway through his ninety-eight years. In this episode, Evers recalls how a white lady named Mrs. Paine became like a second mother to him and Medgar. He discusses how his life in Chicago was interrupted by Medgar’s death and how he tried to share his brother’s fate by actively provoking confrontations with law enforcement and the Klan upon his return to Mississippi.

He describes his reasons for going into politics, his vision for a better, more inclusive Mississippi, and why more black citizens needed to run for political office at all levels.

Charles Evers passed away on July 22, 2020. Now in our forty-ninth year, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage is proud to share with you excerpts from the seventh volume in our collection: The Honorable Charles Evers, Mayor of Fayette, Mississippi.

CAUTION: CONTAINS RACIALLY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.

Aug 03 2020

10mins

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MSM 664 Malcolm White - Music Promotion and the Creative Economy

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Malcolm White became interested in the local music scene as a student at Booneville High School. In this episode, he remembers his early career booking bands and managing music venues in Hattiesburg and Jackson. In 1985, White opened Jackson’s largest music venue, Hal and Mal’s. He recalls the wide variety of bands that played there and how casinos affected their business.

After Hurricane Katrina, White became involved in rebuilding the state’s cultural centers. He discusses becoming Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission and the formation of the Culture Club. During his time with the MAC, White has worked to develop the state’s cultural economy. He explains how the Mississippi Blues Trail promotes cultural tourism.

After nearly 15 years of public service to the state of Mississippi, Malcolm White will retire as executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission on September 30, 2020.

Jul 27 2020

21mins

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MSM 663 Charlie Odom - WWII Motor Pool Sergeant

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The Civilian Conservation Corps was established in 1933 to create jobs for young single men. In this episode, Charlie Odom of Gulfport recalls learning to operate heavy equipment as part of the CCC.

Odom learned to drive large trucks while working with the Civilian Conservation Corps. He explains how that ability proved useful after being drafted into the Army during WWII.

During the war, Odom was a motor pool sergeant, hauling men and materials to the front lines. He discusses his service in the European and Pacific theaters. After the war ended, Odom spent six months serving in Yokohama, Japan, as part of the occupying force. He remembers befriending several of the Japanese soldiers assigned to his motor pool.

PHOTO: Defense.gov

Jul 20 2020

11mins

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MSM 662 Robert Darville, Jr.- McComb's Classic Downtown Eateries

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Robert Darville grew up working in his father’s café during WWII. In this episode, he shares his memories of the food service business in the days before chain restaurants. His father was a welder at the McComb Railroad Maintenance Shop in the evenings and ran his own lunch counter in the mornings. Darville explains what made the hamburgers at the old Taste and Sip Shop so special.

According to Darville, his father’s café had lots of competition. He discusses some of the town’s classic eateries of the 1940s and 50s.

After serving in the Korean War, Darville returned to McComb and opened the Hollis drive-in restaurant with his father and uncle. He remembers fondly how the community supported their business. Darville and his father sold hamburgers and hotdogs to the McComb Railroad workers for decades. He recalls how many of their customers ate the same lunch every day, year after year.

Jul 13 2020

10mins

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MSM 661 Ruth Colter - Natchez During Wartime

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Ruth Colter attended school in Natchez from the first grade through high school during the 1930s. In this episode, she shares her memories of those days and life in Natchez during WWII.

During the war, thousands of young men from across the country came to Mississippi for basic training. Colter recalls how the Military Maids assisted these new recruits. After graduating high school in 1942, Colter went to work for a Natchez trucking company. She explains how she and her friends still managed to shop and socialize despite wartime shortages.

PODCAST BONUS: During her lifetime, Ruth Colter witnessed many changes to her hometown of Natchez. She remembers shopping downtown, buying produce from street vendors, and the low cost of groceries.

PHOTO: Camp Shelby Military Museum

Jul 06 2020

13mins

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MSM 660 Tom Johnson - A Career in Corporate Training

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Tom Johnson was a student at Baylor University when he started working for his father as a hotel manager. In this episode, he recalls how that job led him to pursue a career as a corporate trainer for Holiday Inns in Memphis. By the early 1970s, Holiday Inns, Inc. had grown from a few dozen hotels to over 1300 locations worldwide.  Johnson remembers the decision to build the company’s new training facility in Olive Branch.

As the travel industry evolved during the 1960s and 70s, the skills needed to run a hotel changed as well. Johnson explains how Holiday Inns expanded the training they offered company employees.

The Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management at the University of Memphis prepares students for a variety of careers in the hotel industry. Johnson discusses his decision to become the General Manager of the school’s hotel and conference center.

Jun 29 2020

14mins

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MSM 659 Eugene Stork - Changes: Commercial Fishing

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Gene Stork of Big Point, Mississippi, became a commercial fisherman in 1954. In this episode, he recalls working on a “mother boat” for Clark’s Seafood and how they used four skiffs to catch fish. Commercial fisherman like Stork would release redfish over a certain size because those were the egg layers. He explains how the popularity of blackened fish led to a reduction in the redfish population.

Fishing boats sometimes haul in sharks and poisonous species of fish, unintentionally. Stork remembers falling overboard once as he tried to release two sharks from his net. During his time as a commercial fisherman, Gene Stork witnessed many changes. He discusses those changes and compares the nets of today with those of the past.

PHOTO: WLOX.com

Jun 22 2020

10mins

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MSM 658 Cleveland Sellers, Jr. - The Orangeburg Massacre Fall Guy

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The brutal death of Emmett Till in 1955, shocked the nation and ignited the Civil Rights Movement.  In this episode, civil rights icon Cleveland Sellers, Jr. recalls how he and other students were inspired to confront systemic racism.

In 1964, after his sophomore year at Howard University, Sellers left school to devote himself fulltime to the cause of racial equality. He became active in SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Sellers discusses how they would often protest in front of the White House and the importance of SNCC’s DC office in planning the Mississippi Freedom Summer.

After four years of working in Mississippi and other segregation hotspots, Sellers moved to Orangeburg, South Carolina to attend school at South Carolina State University. Soon after moving there, students began protesting at a local bowling alley about their “whites only” policy. On February 8, 1968, State Troopers opened fire on a group of 200 unarmed protesters on campus. Sellers and thirty others were shot and three died. He explains why he was the only person charged in the incident.

After serving seven months in prison, Sellers found it impossible to find a job due to his record. He remembers how one white woman looked past his FBI file and gave him the opportunity to rebuild his life and his reputation.

Cleveland Sellers, Jr. was pardoned by the State of South Carolina in 1993.

Jun 08 2020

17mins

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MSM 657 J.E. Yarbrough - McComb Train Engineer

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When J.E. Yarbrough of McComb became a train engineer, Illinois Central was still using steam engines. In a career spanning several decades, Yarbrough witnessed many changes as the nation’s transportation demands evolved. In this episode, taken from his 2006 interview, he reflects on those changes. He begins by discussing the switch from steam to diesel in the 1950s.

Before the development of two-way radios, railroads depended on synchronized watches to keep the trains running on time. Yarbrough explains the importance of keeping to a schedule. On average, there are 5,800 collisions between trains and road vehicles per year in the United States. Yarbrough recalls how people would risk their lives to avoid waiting for a train.

After working for decades as a freight train engineer, Yarbrough was promoted to passenger trains, running the famous Panama Limited between McComb and New Orleans. He remembers how a near collision with a log truck convinced him it was time to retire.

PHOTO: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/Illinois_Central_Railroad_Panama_Limited_diesel_streamliner.JPG

Jun 01 2020

9mins

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MSM 656 Alvy Ray Pittman - Total Combat Until We Got Through

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This Memorial Day, we salute all our service men and women who have paid the ultimate price in the line of duty, with the story of Marine demolition man, Alvy Ray Pittman. A Columbia, Mississippi native, Pittman volunteered to join the U.S. Marine Corp in November of 1942. After bootcamp, he went to demolition school for training in the use of high explosives and landmine removal. In this episode, Pittman explains the hazards of being on a demolition team and why their casualty rates were so high.

During WWII, the campaign to take the Pacific Islands held by Japanese forces, resulted in thousands of casualties.  Pittman recalls how so many of his friends died in combat.

On February 19, 1945, U.S. Marine and Navy forces attacked the island of Iwo Jima. During five weeks of constant fighting, the Marines endured heavy artillery barrages from the entrenched and fortified positions of the Imperial Japanese Army. Pittman describes a phenomenon he calls “Combat Wisdom.”—a combination of battle experience and premonition that helped him and his team escape death on multiple occasions.

Given the human cost, some have questioned the strategic value of taking certain Pacific Islands during WWII.  Pittman discusses why the battle of Iwo Jima saved more lives than were lost.

May 22 2020

12mins

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MSM 655 George B. Taylor - The Buying Power of SMEPA

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While most American cities had electricity by the 1930s, most farms were still without power. In this episode, George Taylor of Hattiesburg discusses designing power grids for rural electric cooperatives.

The South Mississippi Electric Power Association was formed by a group of rural electric co-ops, to provide their customers with affordable electricity. Taylor recalls the challenges they faced. In 1962, he left Southern Engineering and became Chief Engineer for the Singing River Electric Power Association. Taylor recalls being promoted to Manager of SMEPA and building the organization from the ground up.

PODCAST BONUS: According to Taylor, SMEPA provided its members affordable, dependable electricity through the buying power of a large organization. He explains why energy security and operational independence is so important.

In 2016, SMEPA changed its name to Cooperative Energy. They continue to provide electricity to over 417,000 homes and businesses.

PHOTO: Library of Congress

May 18 2020

11mins

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MSM 654 Dr. T. E. Ross, Jr. - In His Father's Footsteps

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Dr. T.E. Ross came to Hattiesburg in 1892 and set up an office on Main Street. In this 1975 oral history interview, his son, Dr. T.E. Ross, Junior, recalls his father’s decision to move their family from Neshoba county.

Before vaccines and antibiotics, the only way to stop infectious diseases was through quarantine. Dr. Ross recounts how his father was blocked from returning home during a yellow fever outbreak.

Dr. Ross graduated from Tulane Medical School in 1918. He remembers the circumstances that led him to set up his practice in Hattiesburg like his father.

PODCAST EXTRA:  W.S.F. Tatum was a successful Hattiesburg timber magnate who served as mayor in the 1920s and 30s.  Dr. Ross describes the soft-spoken businessman as a frugal, yet good and generous man, who disliked ostentatious displays of wealth.

May 11 2020

12mins

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MSM 653 Robert L. Gavagnie - Changes and Challenges in Firefighting

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Retired Fire Chief Robert Gavagnie joined the Bay St. Louis Fire Department in 1972. In this episode, he looks back with pride on a career spent savings lives and training young people to become firefighters. Before the opening of the Mississippi State Fire Academy, local fire departments had limited training resources. Gavagnie discusses how things have changed over time.

As part of their jobs, many first responders witness horrific scenes of carnage and devastation they can never forget. Gavagnie remembers a tragic fire he responded to and how that memory haunts him even now.

When Robert Gavagnie retired as Bay St. Louis Fire Chief in 2007, he had over 25 years of experience. He explains what makes firefighting such a demanding and yet rewarding career.

CAUTION: Contains graphic descriptions of tragic scenes witnessed by the speaker as a firefighter.

Apr 27 2020

9mins

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MSM 652 Dorothy King Dixon: Changes to the Neshoba County Fair

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Established in 1889, the Neshoba County Fair is known for the privately-owned cabins located on its fairgrounds.  Dorothy Dixon’s great-grandparents built a cabin there during the early years and their family has maintained a house on the main square ever since. In this episode, Dixon discusses how the Neshoba County Fair has evolved during her lifetime. She compares the early cabins to the ones of today.

People come the Neshoba County Fair ready to eat their fill of good, southern cooking. Dixon discusses the tradition of inviting people to eat at their family’s fairground cabin.

Dixon recalls that on certain days, fairgoers would dress up in their most stylish attire and the girls would always have a “Thursday” dress. According to her, the Neshoba County Fair was originally intended as a place where county farmers could meet up with old friends before it was time to go home and pick the cotton. She describes those simpler times and what the fair has evolved into today.

PHOTO: weirdsouth.blogspot.com

Apr 20 2020

9mins

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MSM 651 James Bass - The Battle for Okinawa

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James Bass of Laurel was fifteen years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. In this episode, he recalls convincing his father to sign his enlistment papers when he was only sixteen. After joining the Navy, Bass was assigned to a destroyer minesweeper. He remembers learning to be a gunner as they sailed from Boston to Pearl Harbor.

During the battle for Okinawa, Bass’s ship was struck by a kamikaze plane and heavily damaged. He describes the events leading up to the attack and how their captain managed to keep the ship afloat.

After Bass’s ship was damaged in the battle for Okinawa, the crew was given a 25-day leave. He reflects on how the dropping of the atomic bomb probably saved his life and millions more.

PHOTO: USS Harding DMS-28

Apr 13 2020

13mins

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MSM 650 Ruby Magee - The Legal Battle for Equality

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In 1961, Ruby Magee was a student at Jackson State College, majoring in History and Political Science. In this episode, she explains how her participation in local Civil Rights demonstrations, almost led to her expulsion.

That summer, Magee returned to her home in Tylertown and attempted to register to vote. At that time, Mississippians were required to pass a literacy test before being allowed to register. Magee remembers how her application was rejected even though she passed the literacy test.

After being denied the right to vote in Walthall County, Magee filed a complaint with the Justice Department.  She describes her parents as supportive, even as they feared for her safety.

In 1961, the U.S. Justice Department filed suite against the Walthall County registrar, and others, for denying blacks citizens the right vote. Magee recalls the outcome of that trial.

This episode was written by Ellie Forsyth, a senior at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg.

Mississippi Moments is produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.

Apr 06 2020

13mins

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MSM 649 Gilroy McKnight “G. R.” Harden – The Farming Game

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G. R. Harden grew up working on his family’s cotton farm near the Delta town of Cleveland. In this episode, he explains how that experience gave him a leg up when he attended Mississippi State. Taking over the family farm at a young age, Harden felt ill-prepared and unsure of himself. He recalls being taught to think of commercial farming as a game and to always plan ahead.

In the early 1950s, the Hardens transitioned their farm from growing cotton to the production of rice. He discusses why they made the switch and how farming has changed during his fifty years in the business.

After spending decades working on his Cleveland farm, Harden began collecting old tractors. He shares how that hobby led his club to host the Tunica Southern Nationals Antique Tractor Pull.

G. R. Harden passed away on February 20, 2014, at the age of 74.

Mar 30 2020

9mins

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MSM 648 - Elder T. Elias Harris - Faith and Community Activism

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Elder Elias Harris of Port Gibson grew up a sharecropper’s son on a plantation near Pattison. In this episode, he recalls that even though their family worked hard every day, they never missed church. From a young age, Harris knew he was going to be a preacher. He remembers how he and his sister would have pretend church services as children.

As a spiritual leader, Harris works with other Port Gibson residents to affect change within the community. He discusses how the group Christian Concerned Citizens tackles issues in an inclusive way. Being a longtime resident of Port Gibson, Harris has witnessed many changes over the years. He explains how white and black spiritual leaders formed a race relations senate to bring the community closer together.

PHOTO: Google Maps

Mar 23 2020

9mins

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MSM 647 Rosie Washington - Inspired to Activism

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Rosie Washington was sixteen years old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Grenada in 1966. In this episode, she recalls how meeting the civil rights icon inspired her to explore activism and school integration. Washington and her siblings were among the first students to integrate the public schools in Grenada. She remembers the severe backlash they encountered from the white community.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Washington’s family hosted several visiting activists. She explains how that experience encouraged her to participate in protests across her hometown.

While picketing in downtown Grenada, Washington and the rest of her group were rounded up and incarcerated. She describes the trauma of being forced onto a flatbed truck and driven to Parchman without representation or due process.  

This episode was written by Abigail Wiest, a senior at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg.

Mississippi Moments is produced by Ross Walton, with narration by Bill Ellison.

PHOTO: theatlantic.com

Mar 16 2020

8mins

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MSM 646 Willie Mac Blaine - McCool Memories

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Willie Mac Blaine was born in Ethel, Mississippi, in 1936. In this episode, he shares his family’s long history in Attala County and how he came to live in the town of McCool. Established in 1883, McCool, Mississippi was a thriving railroad town. Blaine recalls the town in its heyday and how his grandfather helped build the train depot.

Like many small-town banks, the Bank of McCool was unable to survive the Great Depression of the 1930s. Blaine explains how skittish depositors and a sympathetic banker led to the bank’s demise. According to Blaine, the town of McCool began to decline when it was bypassed by HWY 12. He discusses life there today and why so many other communities get their mail from McCool.

PHOTO: McCool Post Office by J. Gallagher          

Mar 09 2020

10mins

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WCH

By WCH___ - Feb 25 2020
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History done right! Great Podcast.

Fantastic podcast!!

By Dimples72 - Aug 24 2011
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A great oral history podcast with really interesting stories.